Wednesday, July 19, 2023

How Dr. Waligore Categorizes Different Theologies

This post is intended to be a brief overview of Dr. Joseph Waligore's new book on deism. I plan on having much more to say, but in this post, I try to hit some main points.

Waligore observes and constructs a number of different theological categories in his analysis to compare and contrast with the theology of deism. "Christianity" generally requires belief in orthodox Trinitarian doctrine and authority of the entire Bible (it's mainly Protestant Christianity that is being analyzed, so it would be the 66 book Protestant canon). 

There is one kind of "traditional Christianity" that, for lack of better words, is neither "freethinking" nor "ecumenical" on doctrine and dogma. Even though many more than two traditions within Christianity could be invoked to serve this purpose, it's mainly Calvinism and High Church Anglicanism that serve as useful guideposts in his book. (Though other forms, like Arminianism are also analyzed.)

Waligore observes the voyage of (Protestant) Christianity to Deism, by noting two OTHER Christian traditions that in the 17th Century started to engage in "doctrinal freethinking" for lack of a better term. The Cambridge Platonists and the Latitudinarians (the name refers to "latitude" on matters of doctrine). Though the reason why they merit the label "Christian" is again, they tended to endorse orthodox Trinitarian doctrine and the authority of the entire Bible.

One potential point of criticism is as much as we want figures to neatly fit into different "boxes" that we construct for a better, more accurate understanding, is that people often don't neatly fit into those boxes. For instance, Samuel Clarke gets put in the "Latitudinarian" not "Unitarian" box; though arguably he could fit into either one. The boxes tend to bleed into one another. 

But the pages I included in the photos on the Cambridge Platonists illustrate such freethinking (many of them seemed to flirt with some kind of modified universalism, and belief that human souls pre-existed and exercised their will prior to their physical birth, among other things). Yet, they remain "Christian" because, again, they claimed their heterodox ideas didn't contradict either the Bible or the doctrines of the Church of England.

By the time we get to the Unitarians, they lose the label "Christian" because of their disbelief in the Trinity. But Waligore stresses that they tended to have more respect for the entire Bible than the deists did. 

And that sets the stage for an intense, meticulous analysis of the various forms of deism. And the chief message of this book is that while there are certain points that can be drawn to form a "deist" creed, belief in a non-intervening watchmaker God was actually a minority belief among the deists. Deism came in many varieties and most of them believed in a Providential God. And for those who did believe in Providence, they much more freely "picked and chose" what parts of the Bible they thought legitimately revealed and which parts they thought not. 

Waligore also stresses that while the deists in general venerated man's reason as a discerner of truth, the notion that God was ultimately benevolent was the primary lens through which they viewed theology. Anything part of traditional Christianity or any other creed that they deemed made God look less than perfectly benevolent was cast aside.

Dr. Joseph Waligore's New Book on Deism

I've been absent from blogging for a few months because of a busy work-life (better to be busy than not!), but I've been planning on writing a great deal on this book by Dr. Joseph Waligore, in part because he closely reads our American Creation blog and our research has influenced the contents of this book.

I plan on having a lot more to say on the contents of this book; but it is a true "game changer" on how to understand the definition of "deism." Now, the current scholarly consensus defines deism as belief in 1. a non-intervening cold, distant watchmaker God who; 2. issues no special revelation, performs no miracles, doesn't communicate to man and consequently to whom praying would be a waste of time.

Waligore demonstrates that this definition is mistaken. Now, it's possible that because of how terms are understood in academic and other discourse, that we are "stuck" with this definition for now. However, keep in mind then that many of the historical figures whom we associate with "deism" from Washington, Franklin and Jefferson to Robespierre and many other figures of the French Revolution were not "deists." We need either a different term, or we need to qualify the term "deist" with an adjective like "warm deist," "providential deist," "Christian-Deist" etc., etc. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

AI Art -- American Revolutionary Period

Not sure how many of you have jumped on the AI art trend, but I thought I'd try something a little light today. Something not too intellectually heavy and (hopefully) not too controversial -- though I know many people detest artificial intelligence (AI) and all it stands for. But I'm not selling these. Just doing these for fun. So, here are some of my recent AI art creations inspired by the American Revolutionary time period. 

A Black soldier in the Continental Army

A Colonial American woman baking in her home

A blacksmith works in his shop

A British drummer boy

I know I haven't posted much in a while. Been busy. But if you like these, I may post some more. 

And, eventually, I may try to post some articles again. :-)

Blessings to all!